Now, you all know that I feel Camby is the odd man out and our greatest trade bait, but how in the world the Nuggets would have to ALSO give up Nene for the services of one Jermaine O’Neal is utterly beyond me. I mean, Denver would be giving up the Defensive Player of the Year for a guy that has seemingly hit the glass ceiling of his abilities after all of his numbers, (except for rebounds), have declined slowly and steadily over the last three years. Furthermore, Jermaine O’Neal is set to make $19.7 million dollars next year if he chooses to stay with the Pacers next season and his salary progressively gets bigger through 2010.
So, aside from being a deal that would send two of Denver’s best big men out east for only one in return. The hypothetical deal, as I laugh raucously in reality, would also be a financial nightmare on par with the K-Mart debacle of a few years back.
And as if I need to illustrate how bad this deal would be with anymore clarity. Keep in mind that there would cease to be anymore Nene in powder blue.
After starting out last season out of shape and on a brand new surgically repaired knee, Nene was nothing short of spectacular down the final stretch of 2006-07. He finished with averages of 12.2 points and seven rebounds overall, but had peaks during last season’s campaign of 16.8 points and 9.1 boards. Those numbers right there are basically on par with what O’Neal did in the same respective categories, but Nene brings a toughness factor that Jermaine could only dream about.
The point of all of this is that Nene is a player whose stock is just beginning to rise. During the playoff series with the Spurs, and arguably the most complete power forward EVER in Tim Duncan, Big Brazil posted an average of 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. And for those of you who are keeping track… said numbers made the man formerly known as Hilario Denver’s best big man hands down!
My bottom line is this: Trade Camby straight-up for O’Neal if the Pacers are that eager to change the look of their frontcourt. But at least for next season, Nene is untouchable for the sole reason that the Nuggets need to see what they have before trading it away. If we have seen the apex of what Big Brazil can achieve, so be it, but if we haven’t, watch out! With work on his mid-range jumper, Nene reminds me a whole hell of a lot of Karl Malone both in his size and tenacity, and that is the kind of talent the Nuggets can ill-afford to lose.
Especially for a guy like Jermaine O’Neal.